Letters to the Editor

Horse industry a big contributor

Editor: I read Dennis Townsend’s letter (The Times, June 12) with interest, as I and my family are very involved in the horse industry. To say that his letter is both misleading and filled with questionable and untrue figures is an understatement.

He suggests that horse owners should be more “responsible,” yet does not give a single example of an irresponsible action by a horse owner.

He then goes on to say that the horse industry is demanding, and as an example mentions the desire for the Township to extend a trail from Campbell Valley Park to 256 Street. He neglects to even mention that Campbell Valley Park is a Metro Vancouver regional park, there for the use of the entire Metro Vancouver population.

This includes horse owners, cyclists, walkers, dog owners, etc. I would also suggest that the cost of $500,000 to extend the trail is a mere drop in the bucket, compared to the annual subsidy needed to fund the Langley Events Centre and the many public sports fields in the Township.

Townsend has chosen to use Thunderbird Show Park as an example of how little the horse industry pays in taxes, and compares it to a Gloucester Industrial Park business (which he conveniently fails to identify) that he says pays much more.

In using Thunderbird Show Park as an example, Townsend fails to take into consideration the spinoff business created by that facility. For example, at a just-completed horse show, there were over 400 entries, a good portion of whom were from out of town and out of province.

And these 400 entries had a support staff equal to or in excess of the 400. These people, most of whom were here for a week, stayed in the local hotels, bought food in the local stores, bought fuel at the local gas stations, used the local farriers and veterinarians, shopped in the local malls, got there rigs fixed at the local repair facilities, bought horse feed at the local feed lots, and bought saddles and tack at the local tack shops.

The facility alone purchases tens of thousands of bales of horse bedding every year. Townsend didn’t identify the Gloucester business, but I would question how many  of the employees even live in the Township, let alone spend money in our community. He also mentions that this same business has no transit service.

Not only does Thunderbird not have that same service, but it also has to provide its own water, sewage and garbage disposal.

There are many ways to evaluate an industry’s value to the community. In the case of the horse industry, it has been shown that it contributes hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the local economy.

Fred McNeill,

Langley

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